USC takes third in Pac-10 with victory

first_imgOften, things collapse under the weight of expectations.Cornerstone · After sinking a game-winning three last week against California, sophomore guard Ashley Corral keyed another big victory. – Tim Tran | Daily Trojan Movie sequels aren’t as funny or action-packed as their predecessors. Rookie NFL quarterbacks bust more often than not.The game between the USC and UCLA women’s basketball teams received a lot of attention, and this time it lived up to the hype.USC beat its crosstown rival 70-63 on Sunday in a tightly contested matchup that had the tenacity of an NCAA tournament game. More importantly, the win moved the Women of Troy (10-6, 4-1) ahead of UCLA (10-6, 3-2) and into third place in the conference, within striking distance of conference leader Stanford.“Anything said and done in the Pac-10 obviously has to go through Stanford, but we’re going to have a lot to say about it,” USC coach Michael Cooper said.At USC’s forefront were sophomore guards Ashley Corral and Briana Gilbreath, who once again led their team to victory with their combination of individual ability and deft teamwork.“[They] are the cornerstones to what we want to get done,” Cooper said. “We’re asking both of them to do a lot, but their shoulders are broad and they’ve been doing a great job.”Corral scored a game-high 24 points on 7 of 12 shooting for USC, while Gilbreath added 19 points, six assists and five rebounds.The Women of Troy struggled all game to get into its offensive sets against UCLA’s swarming defense, but time and again either Corral or Gilbreath broke down the defense and found the other for a wide-open shot.“We’ve always had that thing where we know where [the other] is,” Corral said.For much of the first half, it appeared the USC players had no idea where the three-point shooters were for the Bruins. UCLA rode hot shooting from beyond the arc and a powerful inside game to a one-point halftime lead.USC, meanwhile, seemed content to hoist away perimeter jumpers. At one point, Cooper could be seen on the sidelines pretending to dribble a basketball, pleading with his players to attack the basket.Despite a renewed emphasis on attacking the basket in the second half, USC still trailed the Bruins for much of the game until Gilbreath rebounded a missed free throw by Hailey Dunham and followed it with her own layup and free throw.The four-point possession drew USC within three at 56-53 and gave the Women of Troy all of the momentum.“It was just determination,” Gilbreath said. “Before that we had gotten into a huddle and said, ‘This is our time. If you’re going to do anything, do what you have to do to win.’”Over the next minute, Corral knocked down a three-pointer and a pair of free throws to give USC a lead it would not relinquish. UCLA pulled to within one point twice, but clutch free throw shooting down the stretch by the Women of Troy helped USC hold on for a big win.“We played all four of the top teams in the Pac-10 that were ranked, and we beat three of them,” Corral said. “I think that was huge for us going into the next big road trip.”USC knocked down 24 of 27 free throws in the game. The Bruins connected on just 9 of 20 attempts.Senior guard Erica Tukiainen led UCLA with 14 points. Senior guard/foward Aarika Hughes added 12 points for the Women of Troy.USC travels north to take on the Washington schools in a pair of road games this week.last_img

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